In the past nine months, Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) drivers have been involved in 300 accidents, according to statistics made available by the NMMT’s accident department. Though most of these accidents were non-fatal, the figures have raised serious doubts over NMMT’s efficiency in handling public transport. Blaming the drivers hired on contractual basis for rash and negligent driving, an NMMT official claimed that these drivers hardly follow traffic rules laid by the administration and exhibit carelessness while driving, as they know they are working with the NMMT on a temporary basis.
“Our permanent drivers generally follow traffic rules and percentage of accidents by them is less. However, those on contract have found to be disobeying traffic rules, which has led to an increase in the number of accidents,” said a senior NMMT official. Though the NMMT has been attempting to hire new recruits on a permanent basis for years now, the recruitment process is yet to achieve completion.
“For the past few years, the recruitment process of permanent drivers and other technical staff has been a subject of controversy. As of now we have 743 permanent drivers and 974 drivers on contract basis. As the recruitment is yet to be done, we are compelled to hire drivers with substandard skills on contract basis. This substandard hiring affects our efficiency,” the official said.
However, drivers, including permanent and those on contract basis, blamed the NMMT for providing them with inadequate training and facilities. “I know that general traffic rules are to be followed while driving, but the NMMT should have given us proper training because driving for public transport is different from your regular driving. In the last few years, we have hardly undergone any training, and this has affected our driving skills. Hence it is necessary for the NMMT to give us proper training to reduce the number of accidents,” said a driver, requesting anonymity.
“We are going to take several measures to reduce the number of accidents by our bus drivers. To improve their performance and efficiency, we have started training programmes for them. Also, we are likely to finish the recruitment process in the next few months, which will help us overhaul our transport service,” said Hanumant Dalvi, chairperson, NMMT.
Number of buses in NMMT’s fleet